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Old 11-12-2008, 02:06 PM   #1
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Default Water profile -how to fix...

So I emailed the water departement in my town again and asked for the specific minerals I was interested in. Last year I asked for a water report and just got the one that has all the unsafe chemicals listed (amounts of arsnic etc.) but nothing really useful.

Well this time he filled in my answers (except for two that the tests will come back in a couple weeks) and also expressed interested in brewing and said he'd been reading a few books! That was pretty cool so I wrote back a long email about how to get started and possibly meeting for a drink and then brewing together.

Well here is what I have. I have really hard water... which I knew (since the house has a water softener) and I'm not sure what all to do with it. I may need to add some magnesium, calcium looks ok. The problem is my CaCO3 levels are way high...

I guess my question is what kind of styles am I looking at here (I'm thinking stouts/porters and IPA/Bitters) and what to do to get other styles.

Thanks!

Sodium, Na- 40 mg/l (ppm)
Potassium, K- to low to measure
Calcium, Ca- 70 mg/l (ppm)
Magnesium, Mg to low - Manganese 150 ug/l (ppb)
Total Hardness, CaCO3- 424 Mg/l
Nitrate, NO3-N - 0.18 mg/l (ppm)
Sulfate, SO4-S - 43 mg/l (ppm)
Chloride, Cl - .5-1.2 Free Mg/l (ppm) to 3-3.5 Total mg/l (ppm)
Carbonate, CO3
Bicarbonate, HCO3
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 - 320 mg/l (ppm)

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Old 11-12-2008, 02:27 PM   #2
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You have water with high residual alkalinity. It's good for only the darkest stouts. For anything else, you're going to want to do one of 3 things.

1) start w/ pure RO/distilled water and use brewing salts to build the water profile you want

2) Heavily dilute with RO/distilled to cut the alkalinity. You still may need to add some minerals back in.

3) Use acid to neutralize the alkalinity.

There's tools online that can help with all of this and I've found palmer's chapter about water to be very helpful. He's also got a nomograph and spreadsheet you download.

We have even more alkaline water here (469 ppm bicarbonates) and I've had success using all of the approaches I listed. I also add the 5.2 pH buffer from 5 star to idiot proof what I'm doing. The actual water coming out of your faucet can vary (sometimes a lot) throughout the year, so I get as close as I can and let the buffer lock in the pH where it needs to be.

Hope that helps. Cheers.

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Old 11-12-2008, 02:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
Last year I asked for a water report and just got the one that has all the unsafe chemicals listed (amounts of arsnic etc.) but nothing really useful.
That is EXACTLY what has happened to me the last year!

I'm looking into getting 5.2 buffer as my water when mashing (don't even bother correcting the water out of the faucet) is off the charts PH style.

Welcome to Dublin Illinois BTW! LOL
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Old 11-12-2008, 03:09 PM   #4
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For anything else, you're going to want to do one of 3 things.

1) start w/ pure RO/distilled water and use brewing salts to build the water profile you want

2) Heavily dilute with RO/distilled to cut the alkalinity. You still may need to add some minerals back in.

3) Use acid to neutralize the alkalinity.
do you do all that for the strike water AND the sparge water? Or just the mash?
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Old 11-12-2008, 03:17 PM   #5
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Cool. Well I hope to keep from buying a lot of RO water, not really the cost I'm concerned with but more the convenience factor. What would be a good acid to add?

I've been on HowToBrew for most of the morning reading up on it. Also trying to figure out what my water softener does to the water. As far as I can tell after the water softener my calcium is down to nothing, but the sodium is up to 224 ppm, which is not good, also the softener does not actually affect alkalinity so not helpful.

If I'm reading right I think the calcium is OK, it is the amount if bicarbonates that is my issue (represented as the total alkalinity, I did a calculation and I think my Bicarbonates are at 390)

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Old 11-12-2008, 03:21 PM   #6
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If you want you can send a sample of your tap water to Ward Labs and they'll run a test for all the things we need to know about for brewing. It's like $16 or so, but then you'll know exactly what your softened tap water looks like.

I'm still trying to figure out the water thing myself. Can't do Pales of any kind, but ambers through stouts come out pretty good. I've tried playing in Beersmith with the profiler tool but I can't get it nailed down. Adding one thing screws up the numbers of the previous item I added. It's a tricky game.

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Old 11-12-2008, 04:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
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do you do all that for the strike water AND the sparge water? Or just the mash?
Your mash water is most important, but I treat both equally.
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Old 11-12-2008, 04:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by conpewter View Post
Cool. Well I hope to keep from buying a lot of RO water, not really the cost I'm concerned with but more the convenience factor. What would be a good acid to add?

I've been on HowToBrew for most of the morning reading up on it. Also trying to figure out what my water softener does to the water. As far as I can tell after the water softener my calcium is down to nothing, but the sodium is up to 224 ppm, which is not good, also the softener does not actually affect alkalinity so not helpful.

If I'm reading right I think the calcium is OK, it is the amount if bicarbonates that is my issue (represented as the total alkalinity, I did a calculation and I think my Bicarbonates are at 390)
We've got some local places that sell RO water, and I just stop by w/ 2 carboys the day before or the morning I brew and fill them up. Only costs a few bucks.

I've used lactic acid. I've also heard that sulfuric acid is good, too, but you have to be more careful when working with it.

From what I've read, you don't want to use water that's been through a water softener. You're just trading one problem for another, and you don't want that much sodium in your brewing water.

You're right - your calcium #s are fine. It's the bicarbonates that are way too high.
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Old 11-12-2008, 05:27 PM   #9
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No softened water! It'll ruin your brew. The problem isn't the sodium, it's the chlorine! Your beer will be so high in chlorophenols it will taste like you are sucking on and burping up burnt band-aids. Blech.

Three guesses how I know that..

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Old 11-12-2008, 05:34 PM   #10
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Hope the OP doesn't mind, but I'm needing help with this too. Here's my report from Ward Labs. As I've mentioned previously, I can't do Pale Ales, IPA, ESB, etc without getting a tanniny flavor. Stouts, Ports, Reds, Browns are all good. What can I do?

pH 8.1
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 161
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.27
Cations / Anions, me/L 2.8 / 2.6

ppm
Sodium, Na 9
Potassium, K 5
Calcium, Ca 21
Magnesium, Mg 15
Total Hardness, CaCO 115
Nitrate, NO 3.0 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO 4
Chloride, Cl 6
Carbonate, CO 3
Bicarbonate, HCO 113
Total Alkalinity, CaCO 98

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